the best books for developers
Topics: Programming Languages, Computer Architecture, Operating Systems, Hardware Design, Machine Code
By Noam Nisan
"The Elements of Computing Systems" by Noam Nisan is like a DIY kit for computer enthusiasts. This book is all about building a computer from the ground up, starting with logic gates and ending with a full-fledged operating system.
First, it teaches you the basics of Boolean algebra and logic gates, so you'll understand how the innards of a computer really work. Then, you'll dive into building various components, like arithmetic logic units, memory systems, and CPU microcode.
But here's the cool part: you won't just build these pieces in theory; you'll actually write code for them using a hardware description language called HDL. It's like giving life to circuits on your computer screen.
Once you've got the hardware down, you'll move on to creating a simple computer architecture called Hack. You'll write an assembler, a virtual machine, and even a high-level programming language for it. It's like building your own computer universe!
But it doesn't stop there. The book takes you through the process of building an operating system, which is like the brain of the computer. You'll learn about file systems, memory management, and even how to run multiple programs at once.
Throughout the journey, you'll gain a deep understanding of how computers execute instructions, process data, and manage resources. It's like peeking behind the curtain of the digital world.
By the time you finish, you'll have gone from zero to computer hero, with the knowledge and skills to build your own computer system from scratch. Whether you're a curious beginner or a seasoned programmer, this book is a hands-on adventure into the heart of computing.
Chapter 1: Boolean Logic
In Chapter 1, the book begins by introducing the fundamental principles of Boolean logic and logic gates. Readers learn how to represent and manipulate binary information using logic gates, setting the foundation for understanding digital circuits.
Chapter 2: Boolean Arithmetic
This chapter delves into Boolean arithmetic, teaching readers how to perform addition and subtraction using logic gates. It explores how to build circuits for arithmetic operations and lays the groundwork for more complex components.
Chapter 3: Sequential Logic
Chapter 3 introduces sequential logic, a key concept in computer design. Readers learn about flip-flops, registers, and how to build sequential circuits that can store and manipulate data.
Chapter 4: Machine Language
The book shifts to software in this chapter, teaching readers how to design and implement a simple machine language. Readers create an assembly language and build an assembler to convert assembly code into machine code.
Chapter 5: Computer Architecture
Chapter 5 explores computer architecture, focusing on the design of the Hack computer. Readers build a central processing unit (CPU) and memory system, combining hardware and software knowledge.
Chapter 6: Assembler
Building on the previous chapters, this chapter guides readers in creating a full-fledged assembler for the Hack architecture. The assembler converts symbolic assembly code into binary machine code.
Chapter 7: Virtual Machine I: Stack Arithmetic
Readers embark on building a virtual machine (VM) in Chapter 7, starting with stack arithmetic operations. They develop a VM translator to execute stack-based machine language programs.
Chapter 8: Virtual Machine II: Program Control
Chapter 8 extends the VM capabilities, enabling program control with branching and function calls. Readers implement VM commands to manage program flow and create more complex VM programs.
Chapter 9: High-Level Language
In this chapter, readers design a high-level programming language called Jack and build a Jack compiler to translate high-level code into Hack assembly language.
Chapter 10: Compiler I: Syntax Analysis
Chapter 10 takes a deep dive into the world of compilers, focusing on syntax analysis. Readers build a Jack compiler frontend to parse high-level code and generate intermediate code.
Chapter 11: Compiler II: Code Generation
Readers continue their compiler journey by implementing a code generator to transform intermediate code into Hack assembly language. This chapter emphasizes the backend of the Jack compiler.
Chapter 12: Operating System
In this chapter, readers explore operating systems and build a simple operating system for the Hack computer. They learn about processes, memory management, and system calls.
Chapter 13: Conclusion
The final chapter wraps up the book by reflecting on the journey of building a computer from first principles. It offers a summary of the key concepts and skills acquired throughout the book.